The world is in desperate need of new antibiotics to fight infections as bacteria become resistant to existing options.
GSK has developed a new antibiotic to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) that appears to be so effective that the drug company stopped testing early at the recommendation of independent regulators and plans to submit data to the US Food and Drug Administration soon. CNN reported.
The new antibiotic, called gepotidacin, is the first to be developed in more than 20 years to treat urinary tract infections. It works by blocking enzymes that the bacteria need to start multiplying in the body. Urinary tract infections can affect people of all ages, but are common and especially dangerous for frail, elderly people.
The new treatment appears to work at least as well as nitrofurantoin, which is the current front-line UTI drug, CNN reported.
“Discontinuing studies in such circumstances is a rather rare occurrence in the industry. So it’s something that I’m absolutely happy with, both from a public health perspective and from a business perspective,” GSK chief scientific officer Tony Wood said on a call with reporters on Thursday.
The company plans to publish its findings in a medical journal.
Gepotidacin was developed in partnership with the US government, as one of 19 projects aimed at fighting antibiotic resistance. The Research and Development Institute of Physiology supports the work.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” said Dr. Cindy Liu, MD, director of the Antimicrobial Resistance Action Center at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Many antibiotics don’t make it from phase one to phase two of human trials, and others stop because of a lack of funding, she said.
“So this is something we’ve been dealing with, at a time when there’s a growing number of infections that are harder and harder to treat with the drugs we have,” Liu said.
In addition, Liu said some companies still drop out even after receiving approval if their drugs are not profitable, CNN reported.
GSK’s announcement follows news of a separate study which found that an experimental combination of antibiotics was better than standard therapy in treating persistent urinary tract infections. Almost eight in 10 patients who received cefepime/enmetazobactam had their infection completely cleared, compared with about six in 10 who received standard treatment.
A 2021 World Health Organization report warned of a lack of antibiotic development despite the threat of antibiotic resistance, which claims more than 1 million lives each year.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on antibiotic resistance.
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